Sewing Thread – Original Materials and Those Used Today

Sewing threads join different components in garments, air-supported fabric structures, upholstery, and geotextiles by forming a seam. A seam’s primary function is to transfer uniform stress from one piece of fabric to another, preserving the fabric assembly’s overall integrity.

It is a critical item for industrial garment manufacturers, tailoring shops, and fashion houses with both aesthetic and functional properties. When used to make seams, it performs a useful function, and when used for embellishment purposes such as applique or embroidery, it performs an aesthetic function.

Furthermore, it’s used in the automotive industry to make car seats, seat belts, airbags, and interior vehicle designs. It’s also used in the shoe industry. Sewing threads are also widely used in the embroidery industry.

Because sewing thread comes in various types and end uses, we should be familiar with it before purchasing and using it, such as who invented thread and the like. We will now learn about the original thread materials and those used today.

History and Original Materials

an overview of different colored sewing threads

Humans have used thread since the creation of the first garments for protection and warmth. The early sewing thread was made of thin strips of animal hide used to sew larger pieces of hide and fur together. The advancement of civilizations introduced many refinements in adornments and clothing, such as thread dyeing and spinning.

The Egyptians were adept at making thread from plant fibers and spinning with domestic animal hair and wool. They and the Phoenicians were also the first to use plant matter and berries to create long-lasting and colorful dyes. The Japanese and Chinese discovered the splendors of silk fibers spun into thread and cloth.

Sewing thread has had at least two heydays throughout history. Improvements in shipping, wool processing and production, and the opening of the Silk Road to Asia generated fertile ground for the flowering of needlework and woven tapestries during the Middle Ages. Tapestries were a portable art form that allowed vast spaces to be loaded with colorful scenes.

Tapestries were primarily made of wool yarn, but linen, silk, cotton, silver, and gold were also used to weave these magnificent fiber paintings. Needleworkers and seamstresses were inspired to use the same materials to create smaller works stitched with embroidery or sewing thread.

During the 17th and 18th centuries Industrial Revolution, thread production moved from cottages to factories outfitted with high-speed machines. Machine manufacturing produced more uniform threads with very few flaws, allowing manufacturers to devote more time optimizing the properties of the fibers used. Among the direct results were truer dye colors, stronger thread, and the production of a greater range of thread for various applications.

Raw Materials

Natural Thread

In the industrial sector, these are used in small quantities. It can be made of cotton, wool, silk, linen, and other materials.

Cotton Thread

Cotton is harvested in the field and pressed into large bales. Because the bales frequently contain dirt, seeds, broken cotton boll pieces, and other impurities, cleaning is the first step at the mill. The fibers are opened with a comb-like device, blended, and cleaned after the breaking.

Laps are the cleaned cotton fibers. These are pumped into a carding machine, where the fibers are separated. Cleaning, combing, and sorting the fibers further prepares them for processing into thread.

Silk Thread

silk threads on a hand-loom being woven into a fancy sari

Silkworms spin cocoons, which are then spun into silk. The f Female ones feed on mulberry leaves until they mature and start spinning cocoons. Over a two- to three-week period, the worm secretes silk thread from specialized glands beneath its mouth and wraps up the cocoon around itself, eventually becoming a pupa and then a moth.

The cocoons can be harvested while the pupas are still inside, producing nett silk; cocoons can also be collected after hatching, producing Schappe silk.

Linen Thread

Linen is the most traditional textile sewing thread. It is appropriate for lock stitch seams. When wet, it swells and is quite easy to dye. A linen thread seam improves the aesthetic properties and its natural appearance.

Lace, beddings and mattresses, outdoor sports and goods, bookbinding, carpets, canvas, and the automotive industries all use these threads.

Woolen Thread

Woolen threads are stronger than linen and cotton threads and are used for embroidery projects and blanket stitching. There are three types of woolen threads: tapestry, Persian, and crewel. Persian woolen threads are heavy, tapestry threads are medium, and crewel threads are light.

Woolen threads are ideal for embroidery, blanket stitching, and stitching heavy-weight fabrics such as woolen and canvas.

Synthetic Sewing Threads

Nylon and polyester are the most predominantly used synthetic sewing threads. Synthetic fiber threads are more abrasion resistant, have better colorfastness, shrink less, and are stronger than natural fiber threads. Because natural fiber threads have limitations, manufacturers have turned to synthetic fiber threads.

Polyester Thread

polyester thread being spun

Polyester is a petroleum-based material. Crude oil is divided into a series of components during the cracking process, which is then processed into various products ranging from plastics such as polyester to gasoline. During cracking, a hydrocarbon compound called xylene is produced.

Glycol and nitric acid are added to the xylene to modify it through chemical reactions. In an autoclave, the fluid is heated and condensed, and the molecules line up to form long molecules known as polyester. The generated mass is extruded, water-cooled, and cut into chips. The refinery sends these chips to the thread fabricator for spinning.

Nylon Thread

It is a finer, stronger, and longer-lasting sewing synthetic thread. You can use it to sew light to medium weight clothing. Occasionally, it is specially lubricated for improved performance and high-temperature resistance without staining or breaking.

Nylon thread is ideal for luggage and travel items, leather footwear, outdoor items, leather goods, and sports goods.

In addition to influencing productivity, sewing thread is an important component in terms of the appearance and overall quality of the textile structure. Because of the diverse demands from the sewing industry, the increasing use of different fibers in the garment industry, and the expanding application of textile materials in various fields such as apparel and technical applications, a wide range of sewing threads are now available on the market.

Undoubtedly, the success of the garment manufacturing process is primarily dependent on the operation of sewing, even though a very high-quality fabric is used in the garment manufacturing process. Again, sewing threads are critical to the success of a sewing operation, as a faulty thread can ruin a high-quality fabric and even the best sewing machine, causing the entire process to fail.

Since you already know the different materials used to make sewing threads, check out how to choose sewing machine threads for your next sewing project!